Christmas cards

Money from your mail: choosing charity Christmas cards

By Abigail Rotheroe 4 December 2014

It’s the weekend I get down to sending my Christmas cards. Over the past few years a number of friends and family have shifted to Christmas emails—but I won’t.

I always feel slightly short changed when I receive one in digital format. I rely on Christmas cards for adding that festive touch to my mantelpiece, but it also feels more personal. There is something about pen and ink that the email cannot replace. And it doesn’t even mollify me when senders of these email cards say we are donating the equivalent amount that we spend on emails to charity—because that then makes me feel guilty and short changed.

If you, like me, prefer to buy charity cards in hard copy, how do you ensure that the charity you choose to support gets as much money from the card sale as possible?

Revenues from Christmas cards are a significant part of charity revenues, estimated at £50m each year in the UK by the Greeting Card Association.

Unsurprisingly, the closer you get to the cause the greater the revenue the charity will receive from the sale. So if you live near the charity shop of your favourite cause, just pop in and buy your cards—and better still, buy something else while you are there. But clearly this route is not open to all charities, especially smaller ones, and it does bring stock risks for the charities as they may be left with unsold cards.

Alternatively, for a broader selection of charities, drop into one of the pop-up card shops, such as those run by Cards for Good Causes or Card Aid. Card Aid stocks cards from over 200 charities and the shops are often staffed by volunteers and have low overheads, which enables the charity to get a reasonable share of revenue. Cards for Good states that charities have received more than £20 million from Cards for Good Causes over the past five years, representing at least 70p in every pound (out of which charities had to pay for the production and distribution of their Christmas cards and any VAT).

Or if you are a one-stop shopper you can buy cards through some of the chains or department stores on your high street. While the charity gets less of the revenue—John Lewis gives a 10% donation from charity card sales—this comes at a lower cost, and a lower risk, to the charity because their logo is printed on the cards in return for an agreed contribution.

So where will you buy your cards this year?